Outdoor Living

The City Farming Movement is Thriving – And You Can Join It!

City Farming? Huh?

Even just a decade ago, many people thought that city farming was impossible – lucky for us, that isn’t the case! It turns out that there is a thriving movement of city farmers who produce a large amount of food despite their limited space – and they love it!

Beyond the delight of digging your hands into dirt and watching sprouts grow, producing your own food is a smart idea because you can control the manner in which your food grows, including soil quality, pesticide use and waste control, just to name a few of the many benefits.

Whether you have a bit of land to spread some roots or just a humble balcony, there are many fun and cost effective ways to grow your own food that anyone can accomplish.

To get you started, I’ve selected some of my favorite inspirations beyond traditional garden plots. Have fun!


balcony garden
Courtesy of Empress of Dirt

1. Greenhouses come in multiple sizes, from tiny to huge. Because of their size range, greenhouses can fit on balconies, squeeze into tight driveways, or take up entire backyards. 

2. Depending on the size and type of greenhouse that you want, the construction process is usually streamlined and easy to complete. If you start from a kit, the process is even easier, as all the pieces, shelving, hardware and instructions are included. Here are two greenhouse kits that are lightweight, affordable and can be constructed (and de-constructed) in less than a half hour.

4-Shelf Greenhouse Kit from ALEKO Products for $99
Large Walk-In Greenhouse Kit by ALEKO Products for $199

3. With the correct greenhouse setup, your plants can produce food year-round, whereas in traditional garden plots, food only grows seasonally. Beyond food production, having access to plants and the process of cultivation is a great way to combat the winter blues.

4. You have more control over growing conditions in a greenhouse, including soil content, lighting, humidity, temperature and more. Traditional garden plots generally include unpredictable and unforeseen factors, such as invasive insects or a lack of sunlight (UV lights can be installed in some greenhouses!).

Courtesy of Pure Green Magazine

5. It’s often easier to grow organic, pesticide-free plants in a greenhouse because insect infestation is less common.


Indoor Gardening

If outdoor gardening isn’t quite your thing or you don’t have land, yet you’d still love to grow your own food, you’ll be glad to hear that there are many ways to grow food inside of your home!

1. Indoor plants improve air quality by filtering out toxins. In fact, NASA did a study about incorporating plants into small, closed spaces to improve air quality; the result was that plants have a large impact on our ability to exist in a space, both physically and mentally.

Courtesy of Rugged Thug

2. As mentioned above, having living, vibrant plants inside your home can greatly lift your mood. The act of watching something grow and spending time to care and cultivate your plants brings serenity and satisfaction. Plus, kids love them!

3. Start with an herb garden! While we’d all love to grow our own broccoli and cabbage to eat whenever we’d like, the reality is that large vegetables require a bigger space than indoor gardening can provide (unless you want to try vertical gardening!). Herbs, however, only need a jar of dirt and some fertilizer to get going. Small herb hangers, such as the shelf garden below, are a great way to incorporate useful plants into your décor without taking up much space.

Wall Box by Purple ID for $132

4. It’s important to remember that plants really don’t need to take up a lot of room to bring you joy – and food! As long as you have a spot with access to light, you only need to devote a window sill, wall or spot on the floor to garden indoors on a small scale.


Backyard Chickens

Have you ever spotted a city chicken? I used to see them only rarely, but lately it’s not an uncommon sight. Chickens certainly require some land, but if you have the space, the joy of raising your own chickens might be a worthwhile endeavor.

1. Chickens will give you fresh eggs every day! Save money and enjoy the serenity of collecting eggs each day. Need I say more?!

2. Your eggs are guaranteed to come from a humane source (you!) and you won’t support questionable farming practices.

3. Chickens are surprisingly affectionate if handled regularly. While there’s certainly no need to give your hen a hug if that’s not your thing, if it IS your thing, socialized hens can make fun, interactive pets.

4. Chicken coops are adorable. While you can certainly construct a coop out of pallet wood or other reclaimed materials for a super low cost, for a lot of people, the time and hassle saved by investing in a pre-made chicken coop is worth it. Pre-constructed coops, such as the ones below, are visually appealing and are designed to provide your hens a comfortable, homey environment. Here are a couple of pre-constructed chicken coops that are spacious, easy to set up and will look great in your backyard.

Barn Style Wood Chicken Coop by ALEKO Products for $225
Multi-Level Chicken Coop by ALEKO Products for $329

Get Inspired!

There are so many ways to grow your own food as a city dweller, no matter the amount of space that you have. To begin this endeavor, it’s best to choose one thing that you’re passionate about – whether that be having regular access to fresh, home-grown vegetables or adding life to your small space by including useful (and delicious) plants to your window area. The city farming movement is huge and only continues to grow from thriving online and regional-based communities. Spend time doing research, getting involved and ultimately getting inspired. Have fun!

Natassja Cassinerio is a writer and editor who lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has been featured in Anomalous Press, Crack the Spine, and other online journals. When she isn’t reading or writing, she hikes with her dog, gets avant-garde in the kitchen, practices aerial silks, and studies the birds of Western Washington.

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